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Senate Rejects Expanded Background Checks for Gun Sales

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A key gun control measure that would have expanded background checks has failed a Senate vote.

The proposal to expand the background checks for people buying guns online and at gun shows backed by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., fell six votes short of winning the 60 votes needed to pass. The vote was 54 to 46. Vice President Biden was presiding over the Senate and announced the vote.

The amendment's failure is a defeat for President Obama and supporters of gun control in the wake of the shooting four months ago in Newtown, Conn. Several family members of the massacre were seated in the Senate gallery at the time of the vote.

Vice President Biden reacted Wednesday to the Senate vote on guns, saying: "This is far from over. This is far from over."

When asked by ABC News for comment as he left the Capitol, Biden said: "The United States Senate let down an awful lot of people today, including those Newtown families. I don't know how anybody who looked them in the eye could have vote the way they did today. You know, it's time for the American people to make it clear how displeased they are with this vote and let their representatives know that."

The National Rifle Association issued a statement calling the amendment "misguided."

"This amendment would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution," NRA spokesman Chris Cox said in a statement.

"As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools," he said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, issued a statement on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

"Today's vote is a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington," the group's statement said. "More than 40 U.S. senators would rather turn their backs on the 90 percent of Americans who support comprehensive background checks than buck the increasingly extremist wing of the gun lobby."

Earlier Manchin told ABC News that regardless of the vote's outcome, the need to impose new gun measures "would not go away."

The Senate also failed to pass the Assault Weapons Ban by a vote of 40-60.

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